friendship

You, Yourself and You

“Life’s all about progression and transformation” I said as I passed the beer bottle over to a friend, wondering whether in this very moment, I was progressing.   Which led me to wonder if one has to be progressing all the time, and if you weren’t, were you falling back?

 

If Life’s taught me anything, it’s that it goes hand in hand with Loss.  Sometimes you push things out of your Life, and other times, they just go.  Friends come and go, dreams come and go, thoughts come and go.  I always marvel at how, despite the fact that we know change is the only constant in Life, we can’t seem to embrace it and go with it.  We’re always looking for some sort of stability.  We keep clothes that will never fit us, buy brands we’re used to, regardless of whether or not they do what they’re supposed to, and keep relationships that no longer do anything for us.

 

Eliminate things that no longer evolve you. — Erykah badu

 

I’ve been observing my relationships with people in my Life and wondering whether I truly need them there, trying to figure out if I need what they bring to the table. Birds of a feather flock together and as I observe some of them I realize, they simply don’t know how to Live, how to take responsibility for their lives, how to stand alone. How to exist as a lone being, and for me, that’s a necessity.

I believe in the importance of individuality, independence. You need to know how to be alone, how to think for yourself, how to grow on your own, what to take in and put out to keep growing.  Stagnancy is a trap, it’s a cage you don’t even know you’re in sometimes.  I know.

I’ve spent close to a year, maybe slightly more, at home, terrified of growing up. Of making any decisions, of living, because I was afraid I’d mess up.  As each day passed, I seemed to find more and more reasons as to why I should simply wait to die.  The possible shame of making a “wrong” life decision [which in this case, was about my academic life] weighed on me before I even bothered to CONSIDER what I’d do.

To many, that was a year wasted. I could’ve done so much in that time, right?

Gotten an online diploma maybe.  Found a job. Hell, gotten married.

But no, none of that.

I cried, I read, I thought, and I repeated all of this. And to quote Anais Nin “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

I got sick of seeing my face in the morning with the same uncertain look. I spent hours upon hours arguing with myself about what We want to do, who we want to be, and eventually, I put myself together.  Now, I appreciate all the uncertainty, all the time I felt I was wasting. I grew.

 

For many of us, it takes a lot before we can let go.  We don’t know when to, nor how to. We don’t know when a situation has run it’s course and even when it begins to hurt, we tell ourselves it’s a test to see whether we’re truly committed. Sometimes, that’s simply Life showing you that it’s done now. Some things, I dare say, most things, aren’t worth fighting for, especially if you aren’t even sure you want them.

In Setswana, there’s a saying that goes “Se nkganang se nthola morwalo”, which basically means, whatever repels me only relieves me of a burden.  Words to live by, don’t you think?

 

Most people will never be too ashamed to pass their burdens on to you.  Nor to bring, or keep, you down. A lot of people wouldn’t care if your mental maturity never goes past this point.  But you know, that’s them. It’s up to you to see to it that you become More.  And that will be your responsibility to yourself for as long as you’re here.

 

Who are you? What do you want? Do the people in your Life want the same for you? Will they help you become who you want to be? Are they people you’d like to be like?

You need to ask yourself.

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Mama said

  1. Never show a man you love him too much. They will see this and take advantage of it knowing you won’t leave.
  2. Never love a man too much i.e more than yourself. He can never give you more than you can give yourself for as long as you can.
  3. When you cook maize meal, add a bit of salt and oil.
  4. Your marriage won’t be worth much if your partner isn’t worth much. If you insist on settling down, let your partner build you.
  5. Take care of your body. Especially your figure and your skin. Your whole appearance as a Woman shows how you feel about yourself and has the power to give you the confidence you need.
  6. Buy attractive lingerie for yourself, not to show it off to someone else.
  7. Family is everything. Friends come and go but if you find those worth keeping, do so. 
  8. Never let another person steal your joy. 
  9. Buy pretty bedding.
  10. Sometimes you need to pray. [Or as I call it, Talk to the Air.]

 

Sound advice, she’s tried.

 

But as I found myself thinking about my future children, especially my daughters, I grew distressed trying to figure out what to teach them and how.

See, I believe my mother didn’t teach me what I feel my daughter should know. And I understand why. For her, some of the greatest lessons have come about through trial and error and being reactive to certain situations which, probably could have been avoided had one of us been proactive, but I understand because she isn’t as vocal as I am and hope to be by the time I have kids. 

She didn’t tell me that boys would lie until I’d already been lied to and led down undesirable paths in the name of Love.

She didn’t prepare me for the emotional Beast I’d become once a month when my hormones kick in.  The Education system failed me here too. Y’all just made it seem like a bit of bleeding, not cramps that feel like a kick to the vagina resulting in what looks like a Spartan battlefield on a good/bad day. The anger, emotional texts to Ex’s [although that could just be me] none of that.

She didn’t tell me that as a female, you’re a walking target. I guess I understand why. My mother doesn’t really see things the way that I do. She still victim blames, I admit, but a lot of her generation does. Also, I doubt she would have wanted me to grow up looking over my shoulder expecting to have something happen but, I feel it’s something every girl should know. Rather rob them of their childhood with honesty than have them end up in a situation far worse because they were naive.

Pregnancy scares. We don’t discuss those obviously. I doubt we ever will, but I want to with my daughter. I guess we’ll squeeze it into the Sex Talk.  One of the few times we discussed pregnancy I brought up abortion and my mother was mortified. “We don’t kill what God creates” she said. I laughed and said those are her views and we’d need to be logical and consider whether bringing a child into the world would be the best thing. She said I was speaking like the Devil, which amused me. I know though that I don’t want my daughter feeling obligated to keep a child because of emotional blackmail. I want her, should she find herself in that position, to make an informed decision.

She never told me to know when to leave a man, I found that out the hard way.  

I learned that one should avoid patriarchal men like the plague out in the world too. My daughter will know the same. Although I guess the “Have a partner who builds you” part covered that.

Cook because you want to, not because you have to, for someone else. I hate that. Having to interrupt your time of doing Peaceful Nothing to fix a meal for someone who’ll probably decide it’s not worth it and sleep by the time you’re done. 

I believe Sundays are peaceful. For solitude and everything else you want. Sundays are Selfish days, to be worshiped. I’ll tell my daughter. 

Mama always wanted a happy family that bonds over dinner and cooks together and laughs all the time and such. We are the exact opposite. She knows her children love her but I always tell her, personally, I don’t feel the need to always be in my family’s presence. I spend a fair amount of time alone and there isn’t anything wrong. She says it’ll lead to me being in an unhappy household, I tell her I don’t want to raise kids  who are dependent on another person for comfort, it’s simply how I am. 

I drink quite a bit. I drink when I’m sad, when I’m happy and when I’m excited. No, it isn’t as often as you may think, but beer, wine, straights, they all get a pass with me. And no I don’t get sloppy drunk unless I’m home and with close friends, and even then, I never want to because I always want to know everyone is alright. My mother drinks a few glasses of wine every two months and thinks I’m an alcoholic. Dear Future Daughter, drink if you want to, just don’t be a fuck up.

Religion. If you haven’t figured it out by now, she’s religious. Christian. I was once, and then I read too many books and thought too much to continue believing in a White man in the Sky and virgins giving birth to Saviors. I hope my daughter isn’t religious, I won’t lie. Spiritual, yes please. But that’s her choice to make. 

Sexuality. I’m guessing you can figure out mother’s views on that. Marriage, monogamy, kids, the basics. I still have to explain to her how gay people have sex sometimes when she’s drunk and curious but thank god she’s not a homophobe. I want my daughter to do with her body as she pleases, to own herself.

I will stress the importance of an education. Not just degrees, they’re nice, but to be smart and know the world, understand people, understand yourself. Nothing’s more depressing than a person with a degree and an empty head, there’re too many running around.

I want her to know she’s always stronger than she knows and sometimes, than she wants to be, and her mother was too. 

I want her to know that Love is everything. And true Love, for anything or anyone, should never leave you feeling Less Than in anyway. 

And that mistakes happen and there is no shame in Living. 

I hope I raise a little Warrior. A beauty. An Amazonian Princess honestly. A woman who could have held her own had she been born in Sparta. Someone like Cleopatra. One who walks with pride and is firm in her knowledge of Self and depends on no none, needs no one, who isn’t worth it. I hope I raise a Queen who unfortunately, will know loneliness because those of her kind will be rare in society, but I know she will seek out and find comfort in like minded people.

I know a fair amount of the lessons will come about as me being reactive too. I realize that with parenting. I appreciate what my mother has taught me and what she kept from me, she was doing the best she could and I will do the same. Maybe one day my daughter too will point out what I could’ve taught her but didn’t. And that’s alright.

The whole point of relationships is to learn. My mother has taught me and I have taught her. Lessons I hope we both spread out into the world. 

Lessons of Love. 

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It’s my Life, so how do I feel about You?

I’ve found that even among friends, females find it extremely difficult to communicate, especially about their desires, insecurities and issues. 

How easy is it to go up to a friend and really share yourself? Your crude business idea? Your insecurities about that one thing you  feel you lack in your relationship? The fact that you think said friend may not like you that much.. The fact that you think you’re a bad daughter or you might have a crush on someone? How freely are you able to express yourself with those you seem to be connected to?

 

This is what I’ve learned, as women we keep each other at arm’s length. 

And it’s understandable.

Now I’m not one of those females who say things like “I don’t have female friends because they aren’t trustworthy and they’re full of drama”, if experience has taught me anything it’s to take people as individuals because I know men who gossip more than a  lot of women I know and women who’re more hardworking and loyal than a lot of the men I know. Gender roles are a waste of time but that’s an issue for another day.

 

As I like to say, trust is for the naive.  You can never really know how one feels about you because with the ability to communicate and think comes the ability to deceive.  It’s the norm now. I won’t tell you I don’t like you/have issues with you but I will drop hints, snide remarks, smirks, sabotage at every opportunity. Such.

I’ve said it before that I cannot have any sort of relationship with people who don’t communicate. I’m a very vocal being, I over-share with those I choose to speak to and it would be easier if other people were like that to be honest, for me anyway.

I’ve lost friends over very petty things that I honestly feel could’ve been avoided.  Your friend will listen to you go on and on about being interested in a guy, and never make it known that she is too. The moment he shows interest in you, she disappears from your Life.   This is some unnecessary shit. If we’re that close why would it be possible to let something as simple and easy to find as Dick [because that’s usually the case] get in between us? [No pun intended].  I’ve observed that not many males I  know have this issue. With them, they make their interest known and proceed, assuming it’s nothing serious, whoever gets in first, does, and that’s it. Life goes on. They’re still friends. They’re fine. Why? Because they spoke about it. 

 

While looking for someone to share an idea with I realized I only felt comfortable with going to one of my friends. She was the one I was certain would relate, expand on, support and understand my idea. And so what does that say for my other friends? Because I know different sides to their personalities, who some of them really are, I don’t trust them with  things I treasure. And with that having been said, I guess the fact is, some of them aren’t even friends, just people who’ve been around for a while that I can tolerate and relate to when I’m drunk.  And this doesn’t bother me because they are not an actual part of my life. But sometimes I wonder if it makes me two faced. I am not malicious when it comes to interacting with them but I find myself questioning the reason why I keep around people I don’t need. Which leads me to wonder if really Life is all about using: people, experiences, knowledge, to your advantage. Is that it? 

“People need things, and if you don’t provide what they need, they don’t need you.”

I’m learning this applies for empathy, intimacy, money, sex, basically, everything.

So it’s quite simple isn’t it? No?

We’re all self-centered to a certain degree, even the most selfless among us. We don’t walk into situations we don’t want knowingly, we don’t deal with people we don’t want around and at the end of the say, the questions “What do I want? How do I feel about it?” always comes up. 

I will come before You and it can’t be anything to feel bad about, we’re all trying to survive. And if you feel the same, I’ll never fault you.

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Whose fault is it that they don’t respect nor love you?

“Tell me who I have to be, to get some reciprocity..” -Lauryn Hill

I’m still guilty of doing a lot of things I preach against. See, there’s a difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. 

What did I do today? I spent a fair amount of time repeating the words “He does not respect you” to myself as I went about my day because I don’t listen. I have this habit of silencing my intuition and believing one can salvage any situation. Sometimes I convince myself I’m paranoid, or overreacting. That all people need is time and understanding and it’ll be fine. When I feel it necessary, I can have the naivete of a 4 year old. 

Sometimes making excuses for people is our way of trying to salvage their reputation in our eyes. Especially if it’s for someone you know and have only just discovered that they may in fact be another way. You don’t want to deal with the rug being pulled out from under your feet so you convince yourself maybe it was never there. Maybe it’s fine and you wanted to actually be on the floor. And if the person actually is responsible for how you’re feeling, the confusion, sadness, they couldn’t have meant it, couldn’t have done it on purpose because you know them right? Right?

As you grow I don’t think it gets easier to deal with loss. We know it’s inevitable. We’ve seen many come and go. Some die, some betray, some get bored and walk away and some just aren’t there anymore and you’re not really sure why, but it never gets easier, especially if your heart has a tendency of healing and your mind remembering everything but what hurts.

People are as they are, as they’ve always been. 

But we continue to make excuses and wonder why.

Will knowing why really make a difference or do we want to know why just so we know it’s not us?

That you weren’t the reason why someone is now untrustworthy/ disrespectful/ angry or whatever. Is it always about truly understanding it? Or, when it comes to those you know, is it more about knowing you had nothing to do with it and thus not having an extra burden to carry? It sounds selfish I know but, not impossible. Not all that far fetched. 

 

In primary school, if someone was crying we’d all gather around and ask “Ke nna?” meaning “Is it me?” Once you’d been cleared, you breathed easy, it had nothing to do with you, the task of figuring out who’d wronged the crying peer was brought up and once he/she was discovered, we’d go about basically judging them and it was no longer even about the one in tears, but about the Shameful One who caused this.

I wonder if it’s like that now in relationships. Does the reason why your partner doesn’t love nor respect you matter because you want to know, really want to know? Or just to know that you didn’t do anything to deserve unrequited love? To know that you’re worthy.

As hard as it is to accept, some people are just that way. They will not be changed by Love. They will not have an epiphany one day on a night out drinking and call with a marriage proposal. They won’t wake up one morning and suddenly know how to treat you. It just is how it is.

“Asking him to respect you is asking him to go against his nature. You know that.” – Karabo Mooko.

And that is when all of this hit. For people who spend a significant amount of time fighting for respect in every area of our lives, we’re okay with having disrespectful partners who never show any appreciation, friends we don’t trust and allies we can’t confide in.

And isn’t that our fault?

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Keep your Enemies close, and your Friends in the same category.

Privilege and prosperity will always bring contempt.  It’s not always a matter of people not liking you, you’re fine, you’re just a person like them. It’s the fact that you have what they don’t, are able to do what they can’t and experience what they are unable to. It’s a matter of you having/being more than them and that being a constant reminder that maybe their insecurities aren’t so baseless. Your success/ comfort in life is something they cannot relate to and therefore they will dislike you for that. For the mere fact that you are different from them in that respect.

Now I understand envy, it’s normal. You desire to have what you lack. What I don’t understand is the hatred that comes with envy lately.

 It used to be someone could look and say ” I want that..I really do. Let me see how to go about getting it.” Now it’s more “I want that. They have it. I don’t want them to, so let me find a way to take it away from them.”

If you’ve read enough of these, you know I’m from Botswana. Born and bred.  I’ve lived in Gaborone all my life. One thing people who’ve been here for long enough agree on is that this place is depressing as shit. But apparently, any other place always seems better than where you are. 

Getting genuine support here is a hassle. Damn near impossible unless you’re getting it from those who are trying to do some other shit and are also facing resistance.  A lot of people here hate to see others do better, and I don’t use that word lightly. They will stare at you in disgust as you walk by, sabotage, start rumours and befriend you just to know your weaknesses, to make sure you do not get the opportunity to be what you would like.  The energy that goes into their bullshit is amazing.

Your own family may not have your back.  And to a certain degree that’s alright because people are people before they’re your relatives/friends.  They have their own issues, desires and secrets. That’s fine. I just have an issue with the lack of respect lately, lack of trust and the fact that so many people just can’t be happy for/proud of another.. Fuck, really though, where is the love?

I thought about it. Do Black people hate to see other Black people because we feel like they sold out from the struggle? Being identified as Black has for a long time been synonymous with Struggle, Being Less Than.. Being ‘The Nigga That Made It’ pisses people off. Why you? Who the fuck are you and what do you have that they don’t? Never mind that you worked hard, we’re supposed to, it’s the Prospering bit that they don’t like.

I swear it’s the tiniest shit lately, a man smiles at you and your friend is checking for him. She will not tell you, but she will go the extra mile to be noticed by this man and in the event that they sleep together, she will feel THAT much better because she got what she thought you wanted, regardless of whether you even noticed the man or not.

When did friendly competition become an all out war? When did we stop respecting each other’s battles and hustles and decide it was easier to sabotage than work for our own? When did friendships become more like infiltrating enemy camps? Honey, when did we start being shitty? Was it around the time when ‘Fuck the world’ replaced ‘We are the world’? 

Things are all kinds of messy when you keep your truth to yourself and even those you consider close to you only get a fraction of You.

Right now, trust really is for the naive.

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